Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 39: Radio Bean. Burlington, VT. 4-12-08

We enjoyed a nice drive through Vermont and got to Burlington early so we could meet up with Joe and Hope (the Von Stengels) once again and catch some dinner before the show. We ended up having lots of time and used it to hit up some sights along Burlington's infamous Church Street. Burlington's awesome, and it was great to be back.

This time we played at the Radio Bean -- a super rad itsy-bitsy coffeeshop / pub / live music venue that is a classic fixture on the Burlington music scene. They have music from 6pm until 2am. Pretty wild. We had coordinated a bill with two sweet local acts called Villanelles and Lendway that started at 10pm and didn't realize that there would be 4 other acts before that. It was intense and made for an interesting evening. Some other acts that played included Acoustic Chatter from Boston and Ben Hammond from Montreal.

The place packed out pretty early and stayed that way throughout the night. At one point, there was a line outside the door and all the windows were steaming up as it was a pretty chilly night in Burlington, and the bodies inside were definitely putting off some heat. It was a fun scene.

Stage was super tiny, so we stripped down our setup a little bit but still brought the rock, and Joe did some projections once again. Awesome as always. (if you haven't already, check out more of his art at

Both Villanelles and Lendway were fantastic and great guys as well. Check them out if you get a chance... especially if you're in Vermont as they are pretty active in the Burlington area.

Since Burlington is an old stomping ground of mine, I got to see some old friends including one of my college roommates and good friends Kelley as well as meet her girlfriend. A constant tour perk: catching up with old friends and getting a better sense of what they’re doing these days.

After the show, we drove back towards my parents house and slept in the van at a rest area. We had the next day off and had plans to hang out with my family, have a big family dinner and see everyone. I was excited. I think we all were excited.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Day 38: unexpected day off. new hampshire with family. 4-11-08

We received a message right before going to bed the night before that the house show planned for Somers, CT on this particular date had been cancelled suddenly. We were a little bummed, but decided to make the most of the extra day off. We spent the morning hanging out with Miranda in Northampton. We ate a fancy breakfast then went to a very cool store in Northampton called Faces -- knick-knacks and joke stuff and overall goodness. After the store we went by a local candy store that makes ice cream... and were unable to escape the temptation. It was delicious.

Since we were so close, we headed up to my parents house in Belmont, NH. Along the way we saw our first snow since Colorado back at the beginning of tour. There was quite a bit of snow still in my parents yard when we got there. It was kind of fun to have snow again. My parents were excited to see us an extra day, and I was excited to see them as well. It ended up being a nice night off, the guys headed out to find wireless and get work done, and I got to hang out with my mom and grandma and work on a puzzle.

reporting for all of us finn rigginses.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 37: Sierra Grille. Northampton, MA. 4-10-08

Northampton is a college town. In fact, in college I heard the rumor that the characters from Scooby Doo represent the six colleges in the area…each character representing the stereotype from each institution…including Scooby himself. I guess you can all go online and check, or go to wikipedia or something. I’m content to let it be a good story.

A friend from our time in Johnson, VT lives in Northampton, and was kind enough to put us up for the night, as well as hang with us and show us around. Her name is Miranda, and she’s pretty much the shit. Not only did she play a pretty major role in the combining of the simpson-gilbert superpowers, but she’s a rad artist, a roller-derby girl, and all around sweetheart with impeccable taste. We were psyched to get to catch up with her.

We played a Thursday night series at a restaurant called the Sierra Grille, which happens to be part-owned and ran by Susan Sarandon’s brother... a pretty kick-ass guy in his own right. The food is quite marvelous. You get to pick your protein, then what kind of sauce you would like, and finally the two sides to go with it. When you get little choice of fresh vegetables on the road, this was like food heaven. The host for the music series, Mark, joined us for dinner, as well as all the other musicians playing that night that had made it in time to do so. Big community dinner. It was rad. Then we all loaded-in and got the show rolling.

First to play was a young lady who’s band, Stewart, had pretty much fallen apart before the show. She was rad. And even busted a couple of tunes with some pre-recorded drum tracks. It was pretty wild. She was followed by a Boston band called Rotary Club. The lead singer/guitarist looked a lot like Jackson Browne. The third group was called Curious Buddies -- a quirky noir-pop band from the Northampton area. They were pretty sweet. Good songs. Good guys.

We played last. Lots of folks stuck around. It was a really fun set. Our host Mark got some video from it. A few of those are posted below. Also, got some great free chocolate samples from an audience member! Chocolate he had made himself. It was pure magic. We're definitely pumped to get back to Northampton. Treated us well. Rad town.

reporting for all of us finn rigginses.
lisa simpson




Day 36: The Von Stengel House. Oneonta, NY. 4-9-08

We awoke in one of the dirtiest parking areas we have ever stopped in. It had this beautiful view looking down on a town, and over some hills, but the hill just over the guard rail where the cars park was covered in litter. It was pretty gross, and I think really added to our excitement at leaving the city after a few days there.
We headed north, and a little west to get to Oneonta. Beautiful beautiful drive through barn country.

We visited our friends Joe and Hope here in the fall, and this time we did a little house show at their place. We would at least hang out, see what happened. Hope cooked some amazing vegetarian food, and we set up our gear to do an acoustic show if the mood should strike. Oh and boy did it strike.

After a couple of hours of engaging conversation with Joe, Hope, Barry from the US Postal Service, and some other rogue characters, we fired up the music making juju and played a short acoustic set. Couple of the tunes got captured on video and should be surfacing soon, but in the meantime, here's a stripped down version of Detamble Wings that we filmed the next morning. Joe - Joseph von Stengel - doctored it into 8 bit to fit the nakedness of the music. Sorta looks like video game versions of ourselves. Check it:

It was nice after the hectic pace of the city to have a bit of a night off in a small town in upstate NY. And with friends and good food. It was pretty much amazing.

reporting for all of us finn rigginses.

PS little reminder. check out more of Joseph von Stengel's work at

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Day 35: Lit Lounge. New York City, NY. 4-8-08

We headed into the city and ended up eating Indian food again. At the same place. Cuz we love it. We were getting free internet on the street, so I walked around checking out some cool toy stores and such while Eric tried to keep up with the machine. Steve met us after work, and Marty came and met up with us once again. We had several more friends come down for this, our final NYC show on this tour, which was very exciting.

The Lit Lounge is very cave-like. Dank. Dark. Crooked walls. Little pockets of magic. Basement. It was fantastic. Sounded great too. We did get the chance to see a huge cockroach down there, so the trip felt pretty complete at that point. We played with a solo artist from a band called The Study. He was nice. Helped us carry our gear down the crazy steps into the dungeon. He was good too. We all really enjoyed his set. His name was Eric.

Joseph von Stengel came down from Oneonta, NY with his partner Hope to do projections for our set. Really fun having them there and to have him onboard with the visuals as it seemed to add a lot to the overall ambiance. Was pitch black other than his moving pictures. Joe got some good video footage of a couple of tunes. We hope to share it with y'all at some point.

The show was a lot of fun, and the best crowd yet for a NYC show for us. We did get a few new people who came out, or just happened to be there. A couple of Hasidic Jews seemed to really like it, and they spoke to us briefly after the show. Nice guys. Cool that they dug it. Steve brought a couple of friends out. Cam also had a friend from High School there. It was a fun show, and it was a nice way to end our stay in the city that never sleeps. And as we loaded out, some go-go dancers started doing their thang to help fire up the dance party. It was, uh, pretty epic.

After the show, we decided to hit up a French fry place that Steve had told us about called Pomme Frites. They only serve fries. We tried to go by verbal directions that were a little sketchy, and then decided to look it up on our handy dandy direction giver. We got there just in time to get some amazing Belgian-style fries. They offer at least 28 different dipping sauces. They were super good, a bit extravagant, but mighty mighty tasty.

We drove Marty back to her hotel and got to see Times Square all lit up like Vegas. All the flashing lights made Eric very happy. We then headed on out of the city and used our friendly direction giver to avoid paying any tolls, so the trip out of Manhattan was a little convoluted and windy, but cheap. We slept about 45 minutes outside of the city in a parking area in the hills.

reporting for all of us finn rigginses,
lisa the simps

Note: check out Joseph von Stengel's work at

Note: the Ghost Ghost spent two whole nights parked on the street in Brooklyn, we were somewhat surprised and mostly glad that it didn't leave the city looking like this:

Day 34: Goodbye Blue Monday. Brooklyn, NY. 4-7-08

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend two nights with my friend Steve. I’ve known Steve since my last year of high school, so a little while…something I was pondering as I walked around Greenwich Village with him in the afternoon. It was nice to be able to hang with him and chat, and he was nice enough to treat me to a gelato while Cam and Eric worked away at a coffee shop. We had spent the morning checking out the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, a neighborhood considered very hip right now that has fallen into gentrification quite quickly and was even spoofed in an article by the Onion while we were there. We saw a baby rat, the dirty waterfront, a huge building being built for condos, and ate thai food for breakfast/lunch.

Our show in Brooklyn brought us back to a venue called Goodbye Blue Monday. It’s a cool little bar/junk shop that hosts free music. We had a fun time playing there again. Inspires a real Beat ambiance. Subway rattling past every 7 minutes or whatever. We played a pretty loose/psychedelic set. It was fresh. Really fun. Played 'snowglobe' for the first time all tour.

After us, two members from a band called Starcode played a set of acoustic interpretations of their rock songs. Good guys. Got a kick out of what they added to the room. After them, a solo ambient/laptop set from Up The Turrett brought the
evening to an appropriately strange close. Marty and Steve both came out again to see us. Fun to have them there. Marty and Cam headed into Manhattan after the show to visit one of the oldest bars in Manhattan, while the rest of us headed back to Steve’s apartment in seek of rest.

reporting for all of us finn rigginses:
lisa simpson

Day 33: Arlene's Grocery. NYC, NY 4-6-08

apologies for the long blogging break... sorta lost control in NYC. weird, huh? after that, the whirlwind just kept carrying us forward and sneaking away to blog about it all got deprioritized amongst it all... however, Lisa started picking up the slack during long drives... so we'll pass the torch over to her to tell the stories... i may augment here and there. let's see what she reports:

Our return to NYC… without paying a ton of money to get into the city? Well, just a little to go through the Holland Tunnel. We landed in Manhattan in the midst of a characteristic sea of cars, taxis and people and slowly made our way to Arlene’s Grocery where we would be playing. Arlene's is located in the lower east side, close to where the Mercury Lounge is, and also close the yummy Indian restaurant we had eaten at in the fall: Indian Mahal Curry. Once we found some parking we headed to eat some Indian food for dinner. It was a splurge dinner for Eric and I of veggie samosas, coconut soup, banana pakuras, and lamb curry. Holy heaven. So good. Cam was able to meet up with a family member he'd never met --Jordan, the step-son of his mom’s cousin. He joined us for dinner and jumped right in with both feet. Rad guy. After dinner we all headed to the venue for load-in.

The first act cancelled after a drunken string changing debacle and general drunkenness really. Oh my. The sound guy - Howard - was hilarious and full of east coast sarcasm. He was fun to work with. Midwestern implant to the city, Dan Hawkins, kicked the night off just him and his guitar slingin folk tunes. It was great. Hank Williams, Dylan, traditionals, his own... Sounds like he's gonna jump trains this summer. See the country. All wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. Dig it. St. Louis rock trio Riddle of Steel played next. They apparently had a lot of friends in the area, had a great crowd, and played a long set for them all. They were tight and rocktastic.

We played last to our small collection of friends: Jordan; Marty - a new friend from Chapel Hill, NC who was in town for work; Steve - a NH transplant now living in Brooklyn and our host for our time in the city; and Jenna Malone - a fellow UI grad of the Lionel Hampton School of Music and former theory student of mine in Moscow. Representatives from all over this great nation. There were a few other stragglers in the room as well. We had fun with it. Nice club.

NYC can be a hard market to break into. It really takes a lot of work to build a crowd there and after chipping away in the fall, we scheduled ourselves three nights in a row in the area to try and get to know the place a little more and hopefully vice-versa. I'd say night one was a good start to our NYC residency.

After the show we all headed across the street for slices of pizza... of course... then cruised to Steve's place in Brooklyn, where he introduced us to "drinking out of cups"... which would become a major theme for the rest of tour. and continues forward to this day... oh my. check it. watch it more than once. it will become you. you will become it. no way.